Dr Alexander Schmidt-Lebuhn ‘How phylogenies inform biocontrol research’

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Thursday, 10 June 2021 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm

Alexander, from CSIRO, will talk evolutionary relationships between native flora and invasive weed species to ensure the safety of biological control measures, particularly daisies, and an unexpected outcome. 

Abstract   Alexander will talk about the importance of understanding evolutionary relationships between native flora and invasive weed species to ensure the safety of biological control measures. In research published last year, he studied the evolution of a group of daisies to assist colleagues in CSIRO Health & Biosecurity with the design of host specificity tests for cape ivy and fireweed. As an unexpected outcome, this research also revealed some new insights into the diversity and biogeography of their Australian native relatives and led to the discovery of a new genus.

Biography  Dr Alexander Schmidt-Lebuhn’s research interests include the systematics and evolution of flowering plants, in particular Asteraceae (daisy family), spatial patterns of biodiversity, the use of machine learning in identification and collections science, and polyploidy and its impact on reproductive success and conservation management. He uses DNA sequence data to resolve phylogenetic relationships and understand the evolution of Australian native daisies, and he combines phylogenetic information and specimen data from biodiversity databases such as the Atlas of Living Australia to explore hotspots of biodiversity. Alexander has collaborated with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (and its predecessor) to explore novel identification tools and ultimately prevent weed and pest incursions. He uses flow cytometry and traditional chromosome counts to study genome duplication (polyploidy) in native Australian plants.

Alexander studied biology at the University of Göttingen, Germany, and obtained a doctorate with research on the South American mint genus Minthostachys. After postdoctoral work at the University of Halle and the University of Zürich he joined CSIRO in 2010.

This talk will be held in the ANBG Theatrette.

Bookings are essential because of the COVID-19 guidelines related to the Thursday Talks and limited seating (tickets are free). Bookings will open on the Friday before the talk; they will close on the following Wednesday night or when seating limits are reached.

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